A domestic abuse survivor alleges that the Minnesota Department of Public Safety failed to separate her old identity from her new one in a state database, allowing her violent ex-husband to repeatedly find her, assault her and threaten her.
A woman using the alias “Jane Doe” filed suit Thursday in federal court against the Department of Public Safety (DPS); Kathy Daley, a DPS supervisor; and Kim Jacobson, a DPS data practices program administrator.
“This is a case about a woman living in fear who has done everything in her capacity to protect both her and her daughter from her ex-husband … one of America’s most wanted men,” wrote the woman’s attorney, Thomas Lyons Jr.
Doe married in 1988. Her husband beat her “nearly to death” several times, according to the lawsuit. Fearing for her life, she left him in 1999, assumed a new legal identity in 2000 and had all related court files and records sealed to protect herself and her daughter, the suit said.
The woman expected DPS and its employees to keep her two identities separate, the suit said, but, “Devastatingly, such was not done and, instead, Plaintiff remained inextricably linked to her old identity. As a result, Ex-Husband was able to obtain Plaintiff’s assumed identity.”
Lyons alleges that the woman was attacked by her husband at least six times and his associates at least twice between 2009 and June 2017, requiring repeated medical attention. The three most recent attacks occurred between March and June 2017. The extent of the injuries was not detailed. Lyons could not be reached for comment.
DPS spokesman Bruce Gordon said the department had not had a chance to review the complaint.
Gordon confirmed that Daley and Jacobson remain employed at DPS.
Although the suit does not list Coon Rapids police as a defendant, the woman alleges that its police officers shared information about her old and new identity with several agencies and the property manager of an apartment complex.
According to the suit: The woman’s ex-husband was convicted of third-degree assault in 2000 and sentenced to probation. He violated the terms of his probation, compelling a stayed five-year prison term and the issuance of an arrest warrant. But he remained a fugitive.
The woman relocated to Kasson, Minn., in the fall of 2006, where her ex-husband was spotted in the summer of 2007. Later that year, she relocated to Coon Rapids.
In October 2009, officer Scott Rose sent the woman a letter about her ex-husband’s warrant and later divulged that he had found her new identity by accessing her old identity in the state Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database, which linked them. Rose allegedly shared the woman’s identity with a prosecutor, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the FBI and Coon Rapids police.
Doe informed DPS about the identity issue and the risk it posed, but the matter was not fixed, the suit said.
The woman spoke with Jacobson in 2016 and was told she would “break the link” between the woman’s two identities, the suit said.
On June 3, 2017, one of the ex-husband’s associates allegedly attacked the woman and told her that he would “finish it,” the suit said.
On June 28, Daley told Doe that she would erase her previous identity from the DVS database and that the person who didn’t initially separate the two identities no longer worked for DPS. The matter was rectified on June 29, according to the suit.
In July, the suit said, the woman’s ex-husband sent her “several” threatening letters, each accompanied by a dead rodent. The ex-husband’s name is not used in the suit.